Skip to main navigation menu Skip to main content Skip to site footer


Volume 34, Number 2 (2009)

The Bystander’s Tale: Gil Courtemanche’s A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali and the Rwandan Genocide

February 23, 2010


Gil Courtemanche’s novel A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali has become a national bestseller not only because of the decision by the author, a Montreal journalist, to use the genre of the novel to convey the story of a genocide, but also because it is, to a large extent, the bystander’s tale; as such, it hit a nerve in Canada – a country tormented by its failure to make a difference in Rwanda. Courtemanche insists the Rwandan genocide could not have happened were it not for world public opinion that settled for the framing of the crisis as a tribal war in Africa. However, it was not the devil but real people killing other real people, and this central assumption turns the Rwandan genocide from an event occurring "out there," on a different planet, to one occurring in the political reality we are part of and for which we share responsibility.